Hillary Clinton & Amy Poehler Reveal What The White House Needs & It's Not Actually Leslie Knope — VIDEO
In the series finale of Parks & Recreation, there's this magical, rose-tinted future hinted at during the flash-forward scenes — it's a future where Pawnee, Indiana's finest Leslie Knope (played by the incomparable Amy Poehler) works her way up the ladder in Washington to (maybe) become president. Just in time for Indiana's primary, IRL Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton and Poehler discussed a Knope administration — and what it would actually be like. Unfortunately, It's not nearly as magical as I'd hoped:
"Oh my god, she would run out of gas really fast," Poehler told Clinton about her character's true POTUS potential in a video released by the latter's campaign. "I think she would make a lot of change really fast, and then she would have to take like a month nap."
Now, Clinton and Pawnee's small-town MVP have certainly been compared before: The enthusiasm for details and policy from a young age; the excitement and energy toward change; the exacting, wonky edge. However, this video raises up a key difference between the real politics of Clinton and the imagined of Knope — that along with that earnestness, the enthusiasm and the densely outlined plans (probably filed into some anal retentive binder organization system), there's something to be said about the roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-to-work, slow-grind toward lasting change philosophy that Clinton champions. It decreases the chance of burn-out and increases the chance of improving the lives of Americans through civil service.
To be clear, any exact comparisons between Clinton and Knope are kind of doomed: It's impossible to distill all the complexities of a real live human woman seeking political office (in what I believe is decidedly sexist race) and to accurately capture the contradictions and valid criticisms, as well as the virtues, while comparing them to a TV character. It will prove, ultimately, reductive.
However, this cutesy "Get Out And Vote" spot can be used to examine the benefits of an approach to politics that doesn't just zero in on that initial energy — but also keeps in mind the realistic potential for a follow-through.
It hints at the power that lies in a more lived-in political experience: The kind of pragmatism needed to handle a combative Congress and still plant those seeds of enduring change in spite of it all. It hints at a power in what comes after the hype and excitement and what can happen if we keep caring (and caring hard) after the dust of the presidential election settles.
Don't get me wrong, parts of Knope-ism is totally something to be celebrated. It's high time we give props to the dorky civil servants of the world: The one in her element while explaining the intricacies of Dodd-Frank or breaking down the politics of "going dutch" with exhaustive attention to the diversity of experiences and incomes. But, as this tiny little clip argues, that alone isn't enough to govern and serve a divided nation. And, maybe, at their best, a Knope-y personality can truly shine as a leader when she can back it up with a track-record of doing the work and more importantly sustaining that work.